Democracy Theatre Review: Elected Winner!
Eclipse Theatre Company presents
At the Greenhouse Theatre
Written by Romulus Linney
Directed by Steven Fedoruk
Thru December 20th
What’s the word for a well-written script being delivered by a multi-talented cast? Democracy! It’s Washington, DC. Rumors of scandal plague the President’s administration. At the center of high society, two women are scrutinized for their relationships with men of escalating power. A senator preaches morality. A minister lobbies for his viewpoint. Sound familiar? One of the many, funny things about Democracy is that it’s set in 1875 during President Ulysses Grant’s term. Playwright Romulus Linney sets his tale in a forgettable moment in our nation’s history. He adds relatable controversy, unique characters and humorous dialogue to create a memorable experience. The votes are in Eclipse Theatre Company has produced a timeless comedy in Democracy.
This cast is solid! Maybe it’s the added benefit of Linney’s funniest lines but it’s the quirky secondary characters that stand-out. An elderly widow Lydia Dudley’s (played by Barbara Roeder Harris) responses are unexpected. Whether it’s about sleeping in church or not wanting a man on top of her, Harris’ deadpan delivery adds to the comedy. Essie Baker (played by Cheri Chenoweth) is a manipulating, political player. Wrapped in a yellow and black bumble bee-like frock, Chenoweth’s sweet spoken threats are hysterical. Baron Jacobi (played by Larry Baldacci) and President Grant (played by Ron Butts) are fun exaggerated versions of stereotypes.
The costumes designed by Joshua D. Allard are fabulous! Instead of traditional drab attire constituted for the time period, Allard individualizes each character with flashes of color and texture. I admit the bumble bee get-up was initially obnoxiously distracting but so was Essie Baker. It works! I also was amused that the minister wore a dress and his female love interest was in pants. The only speed bump for me is either a slight blip in the pacing or lighting cue hesitation. Maybe both. On a couple occasions, the actors seemed to wait an extra few moments for their scene to light up. But as Americans, we’ve learned to not worry about the moments of darkness in history because overall Democracy is good!
The Democrat to my right, Bill described the show as humorous with good acting, writing and characters.
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
The Greenhouse Theatre district continues to be a challenging venue for a preshow dinner. If you’re satisfied with bar food, you’re set. There are a million Lincoln Park bars featuring burgers, beers and Bears fans. We decide to try the Persian and Mediterranean cuisine at Aperitif 21 (2221 N. Lincoln). We split the baked goat cheese and tomato appetizer followed by the chef’s special Fessejan. Surprisingly, the appetizer has additional exotic flavors to this Spanish tapas standard. It’s tasty! So is the Fessejan! It’s described as boneless chicken with crushed walnuts in a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce. Proceed with caution, it’s not boneless. We split a bottle of wine, an appetizer, and entrée. With tip, the bill is $70 which seems slightly more expensive than a neighborhood joint even with clothed napkins.
In Democratic fashion, we vote on a post show drink. Since it is Sunday night, “just going home” wins by a landslide.